by Pamela Jones, MA
Stroke is a brain injury caused by an interruption in blood flow. Brain tissue that does not get oxygen and nutrients from blood can die within minutes. The damage to the brain can cause a sudden loss in bodily functions. The types of function that are affected will depend on the part of the brain that is damaged.
Two blood flow problems can cause a stroke:
This stroke happens because of a weakened blood vessel in the brain. Blood vessels may be weakened by:
Factors that may increase your chance of stroke include:
Factors that can weaken your blood vessels and raise your risk of hemorrhagic stroke include:
Blood disorders or medications can make it harder for you blood to clot. This can also increase your risk of a hemorrhagic stroke.
Symptoms will depend on the part of the brain affected. Rapid treatment is important to decrease the amount of brain damage. Call for emergency medical services right away if you have:
Other symptoms that may go along with the above symptoms include:
A physical exam will be done. The doctor will look for muscle weakness, visual and speech problems. If possible, the doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A CT scan may be done to confirm the diagnosis.
Images of blood vessels will help to find the cause of the bleeding. Image tests may include:
Blood tests will also be done. Tests will show how well the blood can clot. Your doctor may also examine the fluid that surrounds your brain and spine.
Brain tissue without blood flow dies quickly. Immediate treatment is needed to stop the bleeding and relieve pressure on the brain.
You may be given medicine to help your blood clot. This may also include vitamin K. It may be needed if you were taking medicine to reduce clots.
You may also be given medicine to help:
Surgery may be done to help stop the bleeding. Some may be done through catheters. The catheter is placed into blood vessels of the groin and passed to the vessels in the brain.
Options will depend on the cause and site of the bleeding:
The stroke and damaged tissue can cause swelling in the brain. Surgery may be needed to relieve the pressure. One common option is to remove a section of the skull. This is called a craniotomy.
Recovery will depend on the amount of brain damage. Rehabilitation may include:
Understand what risk factors you may have for stroke. Manage and monitor medical conditions that that increase your risk. This includes aneurysms and high blood pressure.
Other habits that may reduce your risk of stroke include:
American Heart Association
National Stroke Association
Heart & Stroke Foundation
Public Health Agency of Canada
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Stroke (acute management). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/stroke-acute-management/ . Updated August 12, 2019. Accessed October 25, 2019.
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Subarachnoid hemorrhage. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/subarachnoid-hemorrhage . Updated June 6, 2018. Accessed October 25, 2019.
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Last reviewed May 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 10/25/2019
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